CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Anopad v. Eko
11 FSM Intrm. 287 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002)

[11 FSM Intrm. 287]

CHRISTIAN ANOPAD,
Plaintiff,
 
vs.
 
KACHUO EKO, CHUUK STATE,
and ANTASIO S. BISEK,
Defendants.
 
CSSC-CA-NO. 215-2002
 
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS
 
Wanis R. Simina
Associate Justice
 
Hearing: November 28, 2002
 
Decided: December 5, 2002
 
APPEARANCES:
 
For the Plaintiff:                           Ben Enlet
                                                      P.O. Box 1650
                                                      Weno, Chuuk FM 96942
 
[11 FSM Intrm. 288]
 
For the Defendants:                   Tony Rosokow
                                                     Assistant Attorney General
                                                     Office of the Chuuk Attorney General
                                                     P.O. Box 189
                                                     Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

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HEADNOTES

Constitutional Law ) Judicial Powers
      No court, municipal, state, or otherwise, has the jurisdiction to question the internal workings of a legislative body. Anopad v. Eko, 11 FSM Intrm. 287, 290 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Constitutional Law ) Legislative Powers
     The power to organize is inherent in each legislature or general assembly. This includes the power of selecting its own presiding officer. Observance of a legislative bodys rules which regulate the passage of statutes is a matter entirely within legislative control and discretion, not subject to review by the courts. Anopad v. Eko, 11 FSM Intrm. 287, 290 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Constitutional Law ) Legislative Powers
     Only the legislature has authority over its organization. Its acts in this regard are not subject to review by the courts. Anopad v. Eko, 11 FSM Intrm. 287, 290 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Constitutional Law ) Legislative Powers
     The remedy for one who believes he was improperly removed as speaker of a municipal legislature is to attend the legislatures next regular session and seek to reorganize the legislature again, and reclaim his position as speaker. Anopad v. Eko, 11 FSM Intrm. 287, 290 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).

Constitutional Law ) Legislative Powers
     Just as a legislature has the power to elect its leaders from among the members, it has an equal power to remove its leaders, and to select new leadership, at any time it so chooses. Anopad v. Eko, 11 FSM Intrm. 287, 290 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Civil Procedure ) Dismissal; Separation of Powers ) Chuuk
     The separation of powers doctrine precludes the Chuuk State Supreme Court from exercising jurisdiction over the claims that the plaintiff should be speaker of a municipal legislature and will dismiss the action. Anopad v. Eko, 11 FSM Intrm. 287, 290 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).

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COURTS OPINION

WANIS R. SIMINA, Associate Justice:

I. Introduction

     Plaintiff Christian Anopad, as the previously duly elected Speaker of the Legislature of Tolensom Municipality, Chuuk State ("the Legislature"), brought this action challenging the legality of the organizing meeting of the Legislature following the municipal elections of September 24, 2002. At the organizational meeting complained of, which was held on October 10, 2002, a number of the newly

[11 FSM Intrm. 289]

elected members of the Legislature, variously referred to in the pleadings as anywhere from 10 to 13 in number, purported to elect new officers of the Legislature, after having been sworn in by the Mayor of Tolensom Municipality. The result of the organizing meeting, complained of by Plaintiff, was that the Plaintiff was replaced as Speaker of the Legislature.

     Following the organizational meeting, apparently at the request of the newly elected Speaker, Defendant Kachuo Eko authored an opinion, on the letterhead of the Chuuk State Attorney General, wherein he opined that a legislative body, lacking a quorum, could undertake actions validly as long as nobody complained about the lack of a quorum.

      Plaintiff complains that the organizational meeting lacked a quorum, that it was convened illegally, that it violated the rules of the Legislature in electing new officers, and that the opinion of Defendant Eko was invalid. For relief, Plaintiff prays that this Court declare the opinion of Defendant Eko to be void; to declare the actions of the newly elected members at the aforementioned organizational meeting to be void for lack of proper notice to the other members of the Legislature; to declare any and all actions of the newly elected Speaker, Defendant Bisek, to be void; to declare that Plaintiff remains Speaker of the Legislature, at least pending "legal" decisions of the Legislature; to permanently enjoin the State of Chuuk from recognizing Defendant Bisek as the true Speaker of the Legislature, and to enjoin the Defendants from "interfering with the plaintiff and Plaintiffs [sic] normal and peaceful exercising of his duties and obligations as a Speaker of Tolensom Legislature"; and to enjoin Defendant Bisek from undertaking any of the duties of the Speaker of the Legislature.

     On November 18, 2002, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order granting the relief sought by Plaintiff on a temporary basis, and scheduled a hearing on Plaintiffs application for a preliminary injunction for November 28, 2002.

      On November 25, 2002, Defendant Chuuk State filed its motion to dismiss Chuuk State on the ground that the opinion rendered by Defendant Eko was unauthorized. On November 28, 2002, Defendants Eko and Bisek filed their separate motion to dismiss, primarily on the grounds that the Chuuk State Constitution, Article XIII,  5 prohibited the Chuuk State Supreme Court from taking jurisdiction over the claims.1 Defendants Eko and Bisek also asserted in their motion that Plaintiff lacked standing to sue, and additional arguments related to improper service of process, and improper judicial action in granting the TRO without notice and without proper grounds being proven, in violation of CSSC Civil Rule 65.

      Hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction was held on November 28, 2002. The TRO was extended, and further hearing was scheduled. However, upon review of the motions filed in this case, and the applicable law, the Court has determined that no further hearing is necessary to frame the issues to be decided. As a matter of law, the Court concludes that the motions to dismiss must be granted.

II. The Court Lacks Jurisdiction over These Claims

     It is not necessary for the Court to address the motion to dismiss of Chuuk State, brought on

[11 FSM Intrm. 290]

the grounds that the opinion rendered by Defendant Eko was unauthorized.2 Neither is it necessary to address the constitutional issue raised by Defendants Eko and Bisek, or any of the other grounds raised by these Defendants, in determining whether the Court can proceed to hear the claims presented. For the simple fact is that no court, municipal, state, or otherwise, has the jurisdiction to question the internal workings of a legislative body.3

     A similar situation presented itself in 1999, when the Chuuk State House of Representatives reorganized itself during the terms of Masachiro Christlib and Singkoro Harper as Speaker and Vice Speaker, respectively, of the House of Representatives. Speaker Christlib and Vice Speaker Harper brought suit, attacking the validity of the reorganization, claiming that they could not be removed during their two year terms as holders of these offices. The Court, in holding that it did not have jurisdiction over the claims raised, cited 72 Am. Jur. 2d States, Territories, and Dependencies  37 (1974):

The power to organize is inherent in each legislature or general assembly. This includes the power of selecting its own presiding officer, clerks, and committees, prescribing its rules of procedure, and doing whatever is essential or expedient in the exercise of the powers conferred. . . . Observance of the rules of a legislative body which regulate the passage of statutes is a matter entirely within legislative control and discretion, not subject to review by the courts.

Christlib v. House of Representatives , 9 FSM Intrm. 503, 505 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000) (emphasis added).

     Nothing could be clearer. Only the Legislature has authority over its organization. Its acts in this regard are "not subject to review by the courts."

     Is Plaintiff therefore without any remedy for what he feels are the illegal acts of a minority of the members of the Legislature? Not really. Plaintiff can, if he chooses, attend the next regular session of the Legislature, with his supporters, and seek to reorganize the Legislature again, and reclaim his position as Speaker. Apparently all that he need do is to convince b of the members present (assuming the presence of a quorum) that he should be speaker, rather than Defendant Bisek. It is clear that just as a legislature has the power to elect its leaders from among the members, it has an equal power to remove its leaders, and to select new leadership, at any time it so chooses. Christlib, 9 FSM Intrm. at 506.

     The separation of powers doctrine precludes this Court from exercising jurisdiction over the claims presented in this action. On the authorities cited in Christlib v. House of Representatives, 9 FSM Intrm. 503 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000), the Court finds that the Defendants motions to dismiss are due to be, and they hereby are, granted. The Temporary Restraining Order is hereby dissolved. All further hearings are hereby canceled. This action is dismissed.

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_____________________________

Footnotes:

1. Neither motion made any reference to the Rule of Court upon which the motion to dismiss was brought. In the future, the Court would hope that counsel would pay closer attention to the Rules of Civil Procedure, and provide the Court with the specific grounds under CSSC Civil Rule 12 upon which a motion to dismiss is made.

2. Were the Court compelled to address this issue, it would have to conclude that the opinion of Kachuo Eko is without merit. It is difficult to imagine a case where less than a quorum would be authorized to conduct legislative business, especially where the constitution in question requires that a quorum be present in order to conduct the business of the Legislature.

3. Properly denominated, the motion to dismiss would be brought pursuant to CSSC Civil Rule 12(b)(1) (lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter) or 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted), or both.